Rufus Wainwright at the 9:30 Club, 12.21.07
It must be tough to be an aspiring singer/songwriter coming from a family full of famous folk singers—you have some pretty big footsteps to follow. But it has its perks, too, as Lucy Wainwright Roche would surely tell you. Finishing off her first year of touring, she opened Friday night for big brother Rufus Wainwright at the 9:30 club to a sold-out crowd, an opportunity not many people in her situation have. But Wainwright Roche, the half-sister of Rufus and Martha Wainwright and daughter of Loudon Wainwright III, was talented and charismatic onstage; her shortcut to what may become fame is certainly deserved. She sang with a strong, confident voice that can reach a remarkably wide range in songs that were charming if not yet complex.
After the enthusiastic reception of his sister, Rufus Wainwright declared that he had “quite an act to follow.” Yet if he actually digs himself as much as he pretends to—he sprinkled the night with comments like “I’m not so simple, but I am gorgeous” and joked that the Iraq War would not have started if he had made it to a pre-invasion protest rather than getting sick—the lack of confidence was a façade.
Wainwright played a fair amount of songs from his 2001 album Poses, such as “Beauty Mark”—about his mother, Kate McGarrigle—“Matinee Idol,” the title song, and “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” He repeatedly expressed his displeasure with the current administration, which he called “the reign of terror.” The sentiment was articulated in the lovely song “Going to a Town,” off his 2007 album Release the Stars. Wainwright switched between the piano and acoustic guitar; he is much more proficient at the former instrument, as he acknowledges, strumming at his worn Gibson with a loose hand and no pick.
Though Wainwright is remarkably talented, his unadorned performance rapidly became dull. This was Wainwright’s first solo show in a series meant to supplement his income, as he told the crowd at the beginning of his set. They hardly seemed to care, however. Friday night’s show seemed almost half-hearted on the part of Mr. Wainwright, though definitely not his sister. Fortunately, the audience seemed enthralled simply to be in the Wainwright’s presence, stripped-down though elegant performance notwithstanding.
—Ginia Sweeney, Guest Blogger. Photos by Sam Sweeney, Blog Editor